MPOC Reply To The Guardian

30 March 2007
 
Ms. Emily Bell
Editor in Chief
Guardian Unlimited

Dear Ms Bell,

George Monbiot’s article (27.03.2007) headed “If we want to save the planet…” contains a passionate attack on the biofuels industry. As the Malaysian palm oil industry is recognised as setting the world’s highest standards of sustainable rainforest management and oil palm cultivation, I would like to make the following key points.   

Over the last 50 years, oil palm expansion in Malaysia has used land mainly converted from former rubber, cocoa and coconut cultivation, and no rainforest land has been used since 1990. Less than 20% of Malaysia is used for agriculture, with more than 60% dedicated to permanent rainforest – a proportion that has not changed for the last ten years, and is governed by national law.

The fear that palm bio-diesel demand in the EU will prompt uncontrolled expansion of oil palm plantations and thus further erode tropical forests and the natural habitat of the orang-utan is therefore unfounded as far as Malaysia is concerned.

No peat land in Malaysia is burned to clear ground for new plantations. With a “zero” burning policy, trees are mechanically felled, shredded and left to decompose, producing 90-100 tonnes of organic matter per hectare. Undesirable chemicals are also banned, and oil palm growers focus on natural fertilisers like biomass from old trees and palm stems.  

We realize that there is more that the industry needs to do in order to achieve an acceptable balance between the need to develop the oil palm plantations and to continue to protect and preserve the population of wildlife in Malaysia.

This is a task that the Malaysian palm oil industry is prepared to undertake and this commitment is reflected in our active participation in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, through which the industry is finalising standards and processes for a sustainable palm oil certification scheme, which will start to be implemented later this year. This scheme is built on many of the sustainable cultivation and cropping processes already adopted by the Malaysian palm oil industry.
 

Dr Yusof Basiron
CEO
Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC)
yusof@mpoc.org.my

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